Thousands of Deltans will have the volunteer hours of Delta medical practitioners to thank for answering the increased call for flu vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Delta Division of Family Practice, in partnership with the City of Delta, Delta Police, Fraser Health and Public Health have coordinated four mass vaccination clinics at the Harris Barn in Ladner. There are two more clinics left which will be held from 12 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 5 and Saturday, Nov. 7.
Sandy Chuang, a family doctor working in Ladner, said Deltans have been more proactive about getting their vaccines this year, as some residents sought out vaccines as early as August.
The clinic is run by approximately 15 volunteers made up of nurses, doctors and pharmacists all donating their time to keep up with the demand.
The first clinic held at Harris Barn on Oct. 29 saw 500 Deltans receive vaccinations. Then on Oct. 31, 800 more residents were vaccinated.
Chuang expects 800 to 900 more residents to receive their shots during each of the remaining clinic days for a total of approximately 3,000 immunizations.
Adriana Wong, a family doctor in Tsawwassen says the run on flu vaccines is also spurred by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s recommendation that every British Columbian receive their flu vaccine this year, not just those most at risk.
Wong said any vaccination clinics can provide are valuable to the health system as a whole.
“Symptoms of influenza and COVID-19 look very similar, so at least if a patient has already had their flu vaccine and they do develop symptoms, we're pretty well assured that it's not related to influenza,” Wong said. “Every year influenza does have a burden on healthcare. A lot of patients do get very ill from it, so if people are not vaccinated against influenza then they do become a burden on the healthcare system.”
An unexpected upside of the clinics is it gives doctors a chance to catch up with patients they haven’t seen since the pandemic began.
“There's a real community atmosphere,” Wong said. “I think from a family doctor's point of view, we haven't seen a lot of our patients for the last six months and it was so nice to actually see patients live even though it's a very brief encounter.”
Chuang noted that she doesn’t want Deltans to fear the term ‘mass clinic’ and the number of people the clinic can service in six hours, adding every step along the process is sanitized and each patient is able to be socially distant.
Appointments must be booked online at https://divisionsbc.ca/delta or you can call 604-943-5591.
To keep the vaccinations flowing there are a few steps patients can take:
- Arrive 5-10 minutes prior to your appointment
- Arrive with a completed consent form, a valid Care Card and a pen
- Roll up your sleeve in preparation for your shot
- Parents/caregivers bringing young children should bring something to keep them occupied during the 15-minute post-vaccine wait period.